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Hydrogen Powered Ebikes Already Viable for B2B, Not Far for B2C – Hydroride’s CEO Interview

Hyryd S100 hydrogen ebike

Now Hydroride lets you produce hydrogen for your ebike at home, easily and rather inexpensively, with its affordable home and business hydrogen generators. A game changer.

Green hydrogen (produced from plain tap water not with fossil fuels but with electricity from renewables) and batteries have much in common: they are both more ecological than fossil fuels, they both need electricity and electric motors, and have the same competitors, namely fossil fuels and internal combustion engines. Since they are both an essential tool for sustainable mobility, we do consider them allies of ebikes rather than competitors, because they both foster the preservation of our planet, what demands joining our efforts rather than fighting competitors.

At home hydrogen generator by Hydroride for domestic plugs

At home hydrogen generator by Hydroride for domestic plugs. It doesn’t take longer than recharging a battery for obtaining enough hydrogen to produce the same quantity of electricity.

Hydrogen fuelled ebikes ride just like battery bikes

There’s pratically no difference, they work and feel the same across the board, excepted the source of their electric energy.

Advantages of hydrogen fuel cells for ebikes compared to batteries

1. Hydrogen has a much higher energy density, 20 g of hydrogen deliver the same amount of energy, in joules, as a 3 kg battery, although it takes a 2.4 kg hydrogen tank, for instance for Hydroride, to store those 20 g.
2. Hydrogen is cleaner than batteries, no recycling is necessary. Nevertheless, it takes a lot of electric energy to produce it, and nowadays about 95% of hydrogen is produced transforming natural gas, what pollutes.
3. Increased average lifespan, although if a battery is well cared for, it can last almost as long as a fuel cell. The latter, with proper maintenance can last up to 10 or 20 years.
4. Better resistance to cold (down to 0°) and high (up to 50° or 122 f) temperatures. Whereas a battery perform less and wears out quicker below 10° or 50 f and beyond 30° or 86 f.
5. Hydrogen has a great synergy with renewable energies. For instance, Germany produces about 45% of its energy through renewables, but on a windy day, its wind turbines alone produce 110% of the energy that the whole country demands. Excess energy produced by renewables when there is much wind or sun light can be deployed to produce and store hydrogen at very low cost.
6. It’s quicker, easier and cheaper to swap hydrogen tanks, practically bottles in the case of ebikes, than batteries, which are expensive, slower to swap and must be kept fully charged.
7. You do not need to charge it again. The same amount of energy is available. Batteries will discharge after several month.

Advantages of ebike batteries compared to hydrogen fuel cells

1. Batteries are less expensive, costing an average of €1.2 per watt of power, tantamount to €600 for a 500 Wh battery. A hydrogen fuel cell drive system with comparable power would cost around €2500 for fuel cell stack and hydrogen tank together, plus 1799 € for a small hydrogen generator. Even if if you tank at a big public hydrogen station, the cost of their big generator would weigh on their prices.
2. Batteries are lighter, a 500 W battery with 60 km range weighs on average 3 kg, whereas for Hydroride it takes a 1.7 kg fuel cell and a 2.4 kg hydrogen tank, for a total of 4.1 kg, to get the same range.
3. Battery recharging requires less electric energy. By Hydroride system, 1,550 Wh are required for 60 km, versus roughly 550 Wh (500 Wh of battery capacity +50 Wh of deperdition) for a 60 km range battery.
4. Batteries can very seldom catch fire, but can’t explode like hydrogen, with direr consequences.

Interview with Adam Benz, Hydroride’s CEO:

We do think that small residential hydrogen generators are a game changer, since it will take years and much money to develop a sufficient network of public hydrogen refueling stations. Can you develop on that?
In the meantime, many companies invested in improving hydrogen technology. Hydrogen is becoming affordable. The future should look like a network of green hydrogen providers, which are filling our hydrogen stations for the sharing bikes and scooters.
This is our plan. This plan will become more and more realistic, due to the feedback that we have from several countries.

Now the market is flooded with small residential hydrogen generators, whereas just a few years ago, there was none, only big professional generators for tanking stations. What allowed this development?
As I have mentioned it before. Investors are seeking alternative sources. In this case hydrogen is becoming more attractive as a sustainable, alternative source to batteries. Since most of the batteries are not sustainable due to used material. Upcycling of batteries is not sustainable at all. The cost of recycling batteries is often higher than mining and processing new materials. This is due to the energy and labor-intensive nature of the recycling process.

How much would one of your small residential hydrogen generator cost with and without solar panel?
The list price for the hydrogen generator is 1799 euros. We do not sell the solar panel, but we do sell a B2B hydrogen generator which is filling 4 hydrogen tanks at once. The list price is around 4.900 euros.

Why do you plan to sell your products especially to fleets, rentals and B2B and not really as B2C for individual eBikers?
As we invested a high amount in the development, we primarily focus yet on the B2B market to sell higher quantities, which does not mean that we do not sell to B2C as well. We started operations on February this year. It takes some time to build a professional network of Distributors and resellers in Europe. We are keen to establish co-operations soon, to reach B2C clients as well. We do push agreements with well knows distributors in most of the EU countries.

What’s the weight of one of your hydrogen tanks, enabling a range of 50 to 60 km?
2.4kg.

What’s the weight of your fuel cells stack?
1.3kg.

How many watts of electric energy does your generator need to produce enough hydrogen for 50 km ebike range? We reckon that 550Wh are required to fully charge a 500 Wh ebike battery, for 50 km range.
1550Watt in total for 60km. Average power price in the EU is 30 Euro Cents. Hydrogen has a higher energy density compared to batteries, meaning it can store more energy per unit of weight. I reckon that a 500Wh li-ion battery weighs about 3kg, vs 1 kg of hydrogen to supply the same energy, 500 Wh. Correct?
I do understand what you want to express. In this case you probably compare the weight of the medium. We only need 20 gram of hydrogen in our 2.4kg hydrogen tank. 1kg will not fit into our bottle.

Most car companies guarantee at least 70% capacity of their LI-ion battery for five years or 180,000 km. For ebikes, the average guaranteed lifespan is two years or 500-1000 recharge cycles, which is tantamount to at least 20,000 km. How do these values compare to your hydrogen bottles?
Our hydrogen bottle has a lifespan of up to 10 years. The normal cyclist could use it up to 5 years. You do not need to change the bottle and the even better fact is, that the hydrogen stays inside, even if you do not use the bike for a very long time. You do not need to charge it again. The same amount of energy is available. Batteries will discharge after several month.

Can you estimate the percentage additional cost of one of your ebikes compared to a similar battery ebike? How many kilometers should the former be ridden to break even with the purchase and operational costs of the latter?
Indeed, hydrogen technology is not yet famous like e-battery technology, and we need some more time to establish more efficient ways to ensure a higher range. I want to remind you that we are the next step in the evolution of smart mobility, as hydrogen is more effective, more sustainable and definitely the better solution for the environment and future of mobility. We do not need 20 years to highly improve our technology like e-bikes. We do need probably 5 years to offer affordable hydrogen technology for anyone.

As you know, hydrogen is not yet economically viable for cars. Nevertheless, we believe that it could be more convenient for hydrogen bikes. Can you explain why?
To build a network for hydrogen bikes and scooters is less cost intensive than cars. Hydrogen technology for cars is not yet possible, due to the fact that the EU unfortunately boosted E-Cars. I mentioned at the beginning that we can provide gas fillings for B2B clients with an increasing network of green energy providers. B2C clients can buy our hydrogen generator to enjoy the flexibility of having their
own charging station using a sustainable energy source (e. g. photovoltaics, wind, water) to ensure green energy.

Conclusion

In France alone, in the last 4-5 years, hydrogen public refueling stations grew from 30 to 90. The World Energy Council also forecasts hydrogen to total 25% of global final energy consumption by 2050. Inasmuch scale economies will inevitably kick in, reducing costs, rendering it more viable and safer. Ebike will benefit from hydrogen development, especially in terms of much wider range.

We heartly thank Adam Benz and Olivia Maranta for their dynamic, outstanding cooperation! Wishing them a well-deserved success!

Pictures: Hydroride

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